UN PATHWAYS / FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON UNIVERSITY
COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC INFORMATION:
KEY TO UN SUCCESS OR FAILURE?
On Tuesday, April 2nd, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal spoke about the role of communications and public information in carrying out the agenda of the United Nations as well as its eight lofty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In his lecture, he outlined the progress made thus far concerning the MDGs, making note that “The budget of the United Nations is about half the annual budget of the City of New York, under a third of what the United States spends every year in Afghanistan and less than the bonuses Wall Street awards its main bankers”. This budget is used to support developmental causes around the world, ranging from conserving rain forests in South America, providing education to girls in rural India, and handling all the political and international security situations around the world. It put into perspective the importance of the work of the UN and of all the NGOs it supports throughout the world, as well as its financial limitations.
He moved on to speak about the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), the department of the UN concerned with disseminating information via internet, radio, social and paper media throughout the world. He explained the increasing importance of social media and also the need for non-internet based media so that information might reach rural and remote regions of countries without access to the Internet.
An audience member questioned how UNDPI measures if information disseminated through the diverse media outlets is made accessible to all economic and social classes, and particularly to rural areas and countries with media censorship. Mr. Launsky-Tieffenthal described how the concept of “Give and Take” could be instrumental in successfully communicating with civil society in such situations. A Member State that may not be happy with the information the UN is broadcasting in its country may reluctantly agree in return for the humanitarian and developmental assistance it is receiving from the UN.
Byanjana Thapa, UN/NGO Pathways Intern
Fairleigh Dickinson University